Shake Rattlers and Roll: Florida A&M Preview

Let’s not kid ourselves: no one in Buckeye Nation is worried about this week’s opponent. In fact, no one in Rattler Nation (if such a place does indeed exist) is worried either. We all know that this weekend will end as intended. We are confident that we will win the game; they are confident that our check will clear.

The only real questions are what the Buckeyes accomplish, how the team grows as it prepares to enter a Big Ten season that is looking a little less predictable than we previously thought.

The issue at the forefront of everyone’s mind is the Braxton Miller situation, and the handling is a bit more complex than we’d like. We absolutely want him to be healthy for the Wisconsin game, so it’s not unreasonable to suggest that he not play at all in this game. Why risk further injury or re-aggravation against such an outmatched opponent?

On the other hand, are we comfortable with a QB who hasn’t played in nearly three weeks going into a game against a top-level opponent who, despite the beating they’re about to put on poor Purdue, will still probably have some leftover aggression from the officiating atrocity in Tempe?

Compounding this issue is the stellar play of backup Kenny Guiton in Miller’s absence. While we all knew Guiton’s talent and command of the offense from the Purdue game last year, it was still a welcome revelation watching him thrive in two (nearly) complete games, including a long-distance road trip against another high-speed offensive team.

Meyer has already intimated that he’d like to find a place for Guiton in the offense even when Miller returns to starting, which has fueled dreams of the double-barrel shotgun formation in the minds of Buckeye fans everywhere. This is an interesting option, and one that OSU has had the talent to exercise in the past. What we lacked back then was a sufficiently creative and competent offensive staff, which is clearly no longer the case. It’s hard to imagine Meyer and Herman installing something so complex at this point in the season, so if we see any two QB sets, it will probably only be for a single play or drive to get something on tape and keep Big Ten defensive coordinators up at night.

Also of note this week is the return of Carlos Hyde from suspension. Hyde will be itching to go and will definitely see the field, but it may take some work to wrest his starting position back from Jordan Hall, who has been very good to the surprise of no one. I expect Hyde to take advantage of every opportunity this week and shred the FAMU defense.

On the defensive side, the Buckeyes would certainly like to shore up some poor tackling that has plagued them early in the season, but this is hardly the opponent to provide opportunities for that. This is an area of concern going forward, but keep in mind that this defense is full of new starters and still trying to gel. The primary goal for this game should be to not give up any big plays and get some confidence built up heading into the Wisconsin game.

If you are curious about our opponent this week, check out the Rattlers’ game notes (h/t: Shannon). Make no mistake about, this is a paycheck game for FAMU. Gene Smith is on record that the game was scheduled because of the school’s legendary band, which is returning to action this year after shutting down following a fatal hazing incident in 2011.

Bringing the Marching 100 to the Horseshoe to play alongside TBDBITL would have been a wonderful tribute to Robert Champion and a significant goodwill gesture from a major player in the college band community, but unfortunately they aren’t coming.

Ohio State is a 57-point favorite in this game and that’s with Miller’s status still uncertain. As with all games this unbalanced, the most important number to shoot for is zero injuries. Making a score prediction for a game like this is futile, because there’s no way to know what the staff is going to want to accomplish once the lead is insurmountable. That said, there’s no reason to think we can’t cover that cavernous spread.

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